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Auzzee 08-11-2012 03:21 AM

Which US chandleries?
I have recently been sent cattledogs from both West Marine and Defender Marine. Given the size of the domestic sailing/boating market in the US, I assume there are many more large chandlers, with devoted fans.

I will need to spend probably $6,000 to $7000 on boat bits, not including the dinghy and outboard, and I will need to have the new bits sent to Mexico.

Which is the best chandlery for service (both pre and post sale), quality of goods and price, delivery and general efficiency, as far as you are concerned?

My list includes everything from small (spare zincs, shackles, blocks, filters, hose clamps) to bigger one-offs (handheld GPS, VHF, jerrys, EPIRB, flare gun and flares) to operating gear (spare rope, fenders, drogue, first aid, nav tools and binoculars) to comfort items (cutlery, crockery, microwave, windscoop, foul weather gear, self inflating PFDs) to the dinghy and outboard. More than 50 separate items currently populate the list. (ERK!)

It's going to be exciting; but it will quickly become old if I have to faff about all over getting bits from a wide variety of suppliers.

So..who's yer favourite?

mico 08-11-2012 11:25 AM

How are you off for socks and underwear? :lol:

Auzzee 08-11-2012 01:11 PM

Seems to me those items are somewhat superfluous. But, just in case the Queen visits, I will have two of each...and my special, good thongs (or do you call them flip flops?).

JimKane 08-11-2012 03:19 PM

Smart money buys from West Marine using the Defender and other catalogs to drive the prices down. West Marine matches its competitors prices as long as the competitor is a store and not merely a mail order house. I have had excellent service after purchase from West Marine even without the receipt.


redbopeep 08-11-2012 04:35 PM

We really love it when Defender has something that we want to buy. But you have to think of Defender as the cut-rate low price and zero customer service/customer interaction type place. They do a great job figuring out what the biggest sellers are and then they carry ONLY those biggest seller items at the lowest possible price. That means they'll carry only one model of an item which West will have 10 models and most other discount vendors will have 7 models. If what you want is the one model of an item everyone else wants, you'll usually find excellent pricing at Defender. You'll not be able to get them to go out of their way to help you by ordering something special or giving you advice. That's not their strength. Their strengh is lowest price, period.

West Marine's prices are quite high. The only reasonable time to purchase from West Marine is when you just don't have time to find the item(s) at discount elsewhere. The local US stores are filled with friendly but unfortunately often clueless clerks. They all mean well, but often can't help you unless you're buying run-of-the-mill stuff that they've sold to thousands of other boaters--and that's the stuff that you'll find a good price at Defender. Here in the USA, they are more a "boating" store for the weekend boater, they're not specialized to cruisers. West Marine's policy of matching price doesn't really work well--I've had a little personal experience with it and don't want to get into it here on a forum. I just think of West as the emergency "back up" place to buy things if I'm in a hurry or lazy.

I've suggested elsewhere on one of Auzzee's threads that he investigate Downwind Marine. Originally owned by a cruising family (the Frost family) of San Diego and now part of the San Diego Marine Exchange. They are reputable, support cruisers, put together cruising seminars (free) in the fall when many cruisers are visiting San Diego on their way to Mexico. They ship all over the world and if they don't have something that you need in an out-of-the-way place, they'll source it for you and ship it to you. They will receive mail and packages for cruisers in the San Diego area as well--free of charge--and you can walk in and pick it up. That also means that as long as you're buying something that they don't vend themselves (e.g. you're getting a blanket from Lands End) they'll accept the package AND even (for cost of postage) forward it on to you in a foreign port. I can't say enough really good things about building a relationship with the company. Chris Frost ran the business for many years, he now works in the store but management is via Marine Exchange. While in San Diego, we purchased many things for the rebuild of our boat from Marine Exchange. We did set up a boatbuilder account since we were doing so much business with them during the rebuild. Without the account, Marine Exchange prices are about like those of West Marine (too high) but with the account they are reasonable. At the time, Downwind Marine wasn't part of Marine Exchange but we often did business with them anyway.

Downwind Marine has an online store so you can check their prices there as well. Downwind Marine

Other places for good pricing? Fisheries Supply (Washington State) has a good (large) catalog, they'll give you an account and discount pricing on big ticket items if you call them. Their online store: Fisheries Supply

Hamilton Marine Welcome To Hamilton Marine is a really nice bunch of folks on the East Coast, much like Downwind Marine, they seem to really care about the customer and provide advice on product selection. They have a huge catalog which is a bit like West Marine with a little better pricing. I've bought from them when their pricing has been best on a particular item. Some things with them are very low priced. I think they have better pricing than West Marine but their general pricing seems higher than Fisheries and Downwind.

I'd suggest that you research each of your items and then decide the model/brand you desire and figure out who has the best price online and work from there.

There are numerous specialized (online) marine vendors here in the USA with excellent prices on the particular things they sell.

Fair winds,

zeehag 08-11-2012 07:42 PM

ye know, there ARE parts in mexico--you dont have to ship everything here--we have zincs here, they even have gps units here-but be prepared to pay lots of dollars.
as for usa chandleries--online places are good, and the in person san diego places i use are the three stores owned and operated by san diego marine exchange--downwind marine, sailing supply and sdmx.
about shipping to mexico--be prepared to wait loong weeks for goods and have a pricey duty to pay for delivery. i suggest the parts houses and yards in the area in which you are refitting this boat be checked out before deciding to ship in a lot of stuff you can find for probably less money in mexico.

Auzzee 08-12-2012 01:44 AM

Thanks Zeehag, can you give me the names of the best and biggest chandleries in Mexico? I would be particularly interested to find one in or near San Carlos or Guaymas.

The whole duty issue is one I need to investigate. In some countries, parts going to a yacht in transit are not taxable.

zeehag 08-12-2012 01:57 PM

i have found the locals do a lot of fabrications--i have used locals in mazatlan and in la cruz de huanacaxtle--i havent been to san carlos--if you can get the online chandleries to send to mexico it may be ok--if they have frees hipping--and make sure they do a return receipt because is onoy true way of receiving the goods here--some items make forays into unknown while they are on back of the one legged donkey....with the broken ankle....walking thru alligators....(mail service here is iffy at best)
if you can drive across border with goods is better than shipping em to yourself.
in puerto vallarta there is zaragosa--they truly do charge more than 400 percent over retail.....

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